FORMER Woolworths Saturday girl Claire Robertson is re-opening the Dorchester store as... Wellworths.
The new store will sell many of the lines that the Woolies branch stocked before the chain store favourite closed down at Christmas.
And many of the former staff will be returning to the South Street shop including former manager Claire, who had her first job with Woolworths as a Saturday girl.
She said: “We’re going to open in mid-March and we can’t wait. We know a lot of our customers will be back and new ones. And it’s good news for the town because this is a prime site and nobody wanted to see it empty.”
A consortium including the store’s Irish owner is backing the new team.
Ms Robertson said Wellworths would have a familiar feel about it for Woolies customers who will recognise many of the staff who lost their jobs when the High Street chain folded.
All 26 staff lost their jobs when Woolworths closed but around 20 will be back to work for Wellworths.
She said: “I’ve kept in contact with all the staff since then and some have found new jobs.
“But it will be wonderful to have so many back together again. Most of the colleagues will slot back in here.
“They are a fantastic team and all eager to get going.
“This is like a dream come true for me. Before Woolworths closed I sent my CV and a business plan to the owner and he formed a consortium to set up Wellworths.
“I started working for Woolworths as a Saturday girl in Yeovil when I was 15 and I came to Dorchester as trainee assistant manager in 1994. Dorchester was always a profitable branch and when it was closing I came up with a business plan to have a shop selling all those things that sell well here.
“I thought then that there had to be a chance of doing something in this store – I couldn’t ask for a better location.
“When it closed it was very sad. All the staff had wanted to keep it nice right up to the end but it was heart-breaking. You almost didn’t believe it was going to happen – we kept hoping right up the end that someone would come in and buy it and keep it going.”
She said customers would find many lines they would expect to see in Woolies such as kitchenware, DIY, confectionery, toys, party goods and seasonal lines including Easter eggs. They also plan to enlarge on successful lines such as picture frames.
But they don’t plan to stock CDs, DVDs or children’s clothing.
Ms Robertson said: “We’re going to be running very much the same kind of family store as Woolworths – only even better. We’ll be able to be more flexible on what we stock.”
Former Dorchester Woolworths assistant manager Terri Edwards of Weymouth is among those heading the Wellworths team. Daniel Roy of Portland will be joining the team as in-store buyer.
Ms Robertson said: “I’m sure we are the only ones doing something like this in a former Woolworths store. It’s really exciting.”